Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of Adam Shaw and Dr. Lauren Collaghan’s Pulling the Trigger: The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach to OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression.
COURAGE NOT FIGHT
Accept Your Mind, Own It For What It Is. This Takes Courage, Not Fight
All my life, from being a little boy to a fully grown man, I tried to suppress my thoughts and anxiety because I knew no better and because I felt compelled to fight them. I was frightened, ashamed of and appalled about my mind and my crippling thoughts. It was terrifying, lonely and debilitating. I constantly felt that I was on the edge of madness and that no one or nothing could help me. It felt like a war I was gradually losing every day as my strength would deplete and my energy drain. The day I brought Lauren into my life, some thirty years’ later, was the day I stopped fighting and my life changed forever. The day I truly accepted my thoughts and truly embraced them was the day I began to take control; this made surviving my anxiety-based mental illness possible, but more importantly made my recovery inevitable. A new life was beginning for me. No words will ever be enough to thank my wife, Alissa, my beautiful children and, of course, my therapist and colleague Lauren Callaghan for all their unconditional love and support.
Adam Shaw: We can all change the game on mental health recovery. It’s time for a new way of thinking, so let’s make recovery possible for all.
Providing this service through our recovery approach and charity foundation is my passion. Pain and suffering through anxiety-based mental illness has played a big part in my life through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and at times has come terrifyingly close to destroying me. However, I promise you that survival and recovery can and will happen, as we guide you through our method of Pulling the Trigger (PTT): a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a Compassion-Focused Approach. I can assure all my fellow sufferers, families and loved ones of sufferers, and indeed anyone supporting the PTT movement, that through your support and contribution by purchasing this definitive and inspiring recovery approach, you will not only help ensure your own recovery, or that of your loved one, but just as importantly you will also be helping and supporting those most vulnerable in our society and those who are also trapped in a cycle of despair through mental health issues. We achieve this through our global charity organisation, The Shaw Mind Foundation (www.shawmindfoundation.org). It is our mission to show sufferers from all walks of life and around the globe that they are not alone because help and support is available and accessible. Sufferers and their loved ones don’t have to give up hope because survival and recovery is more than possible. We promise this.
Within this recovery approach, Lauren and I want to give you the very best of our experience in dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, panic attacks and related depression while we encourage, help and support you as you lay your torment to rest. And be assured that’s exactly what you will do if you follow our journey. Our approach is a simple yet highly effective treatment for mild to severe anxiety-based mental health issues and is located in Part II of this book. The first section of this book contains my personal story; a journey through the severe struggles I have faced with mental health issues throughout my life. While my story is one primarily dominated by OCD, it is important to stipulate that it has relevance on so many levels to all those suffering with various anxiety-based mental health issues. I want sufferers and their loved ones to understand my story so they are able to identify the elements which also contribute to their own personal suffering. We have added my story to Part I of this book by way of an introduction to our PTT approach and while we encourage you to read and digest my story as a platform to begin your recovery, the magic within this book comes in Part II – the PTT approach which will help lead you to recovery and to a life free of OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and related depression.
I call it an approach. In fact, it’s more of a survival and recovery manual. Let me explain. At the time of writing, I’m a businessman operating various companies in the legal services industry and living in Lincolnshire, UK. I have a wonderful wife, five great children and a warm and supportive extended family. One would say I have many of the trappings of success for which I consider myself a very lucky man. However, this has not always been the story of my life. There was a time when my mind seemed to be shattered into so many pieces that I felt I could not continue living. The OCD and extreme anxiety that I’d suffered from childhood had spun completely out of control, causing me panic attacks and many regular suicidal thoughts.
In the middle of my last major episode of anxiety and panic, which resulted in my contemplating suicide, I’d attended the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of my local hospital, desperately begging them for help. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) being what it is, the A&E Department simply didn’t have the resources within its mental health service to do something for me there and then. I felt like I was going crazy and wished someone could put me into a deep sleep that would last a year or more. I just didn’t want to exist any more through this acute mental torment I was suffering from.
When I stood on that bridge, staring at the train tracks below and wondering if I had the courage to jump, I was at my lowest ebb. ‘If I can’t beat this now,’ I thought, ‘I never will.’ And this was from the man who had everything to live for, and many of the things other people may envy. This wasn’t a cry for help; I was deadly serious about ending it all. I was in an extremely desperate state of mind, but equally I was rational in my thinking when it came to suicide.
I had ensured my estate was in order so my wife and children would have a secure future. Furthermore, I was deeply concerned for the driver of the train. I didn’t want his or her world turned inside out by going through the horror of seeing someone jump in front of a high-speed train and be unable to do anything. My rationale to achieve this was to jump just as the first carriage passed under the bridge. Looking back, I guess I didn’t take everything into consideration as the thought never even entered my head about the poor person who would discover my body.
I didn’t jump that day. I was almost convinced it was the right thing to do. But something – a tiny bit of hope, perhaps – stopped me from going over the edge. After that day, I told myself that if I got better I would somehow help other people suffering from the anxiety and OCD which had crippled me. At that stage I realised that only by taking matters into my own hands would I start to recover. I make no criticism of the NHS in the UK; it provides an excellent service within its budget. But I needed help there and then, and luckily I was in a position to fund such assistance myself. I realise that many others aren’t able to do this, which is why I made the vow to help my fellow sufferers and their families. This book and the recovery approach contained within it is the first step on that road to tackle an illness that affects many people across the world, and probably more alarmingly, the millions more who have yet to be diagnosed.
How did I get better? How did I get to the point in my life where I can now say I’ve recovered? Well, it’s a long story but not a particularly complicated one. I was fortunate enough to meet Lauren, an industry-leading therapist and the co-author of this book and PTT approach, who introduced me to a completely new way of approaching my illness; how to accept the thoughts I was having, embrace them and by doing so, control them. The three short words which sum up these techniques are Accept, Embrace and Control. Three words that form the basis of everything Lauren and I will teach you in this recovery approach. There is nothing more to it than that…
Would you like to continue reading Pulling the Trigger: The Definitive Survival and Recovery Approach to OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depression? If so, you can purchase the book in paperback, Kindle format or as an audiobook here.